Stop Being So Darn Nice

Rick Ropelewski |

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!  For part of the holidays we visited my sister in Paducah Kentucky.  For those of you not up on your Midwest geography Kentucky is a very wide state from east to west.  Paducah, at the far western edge is only two hours from St. Louis and five hours south of Chicago.  (Thus concludes the educational part of this newsletter for those of your getting concerned!)  My sister is an amazing quilter (pics to follow soon), and Paducah has a large artist community, hence her move from the East Coast to the Midwest about five years ago.

It has been a while, but from my days in the Air Force and other general travel I have spent some time in the Midwest.  However, I have become fully ingrained in the Boston pace and mindset from the last 25 plus years.  I pride myself on the cheery hello and thank you during brief retail store and restaurant  interaction.  I hold the door for strangers and get my kids to roll their eyes when I go out of the way to help someone with an arm full of packages.  However, after our Paducah trip, I feel like the surliest person on earth.

A big part of Paducah’s economy is tourism, and based on our interaction with everyone they are well aware of that fact.  However, at one end of the service spectrum you have the, “I’ll take your money and try to tolerate you because I have to” mindset we have all encountered.  At the other end you have people who are genuine, helpful, and enthusiastic.  About three steps beyond that were most of our exchanges in Paducah.   The gentleman who checked us in to the hotel could not have been nicer.  It became a running joke that we had to sneak out the side door versus going through the lobby because we would have another 15 minute conversation with Steve (there is that Boston mentality coming through!).  At the airport they did not have any more cars in the size we had reserved, so the guy went sprinting off to find another car.  He came back two minutes later with a SUV the size of an aircraft carrier at no additional charge, apologizing for making us “wait so long”.  Heck, the TSA woman at the airport was even nice!!  She pointed out that we have to get a new driver’s license by October 2020 even though our licenses don’t expire for another year or two.  Something to do with new REAL ID requirements.  If we had no other similar experiences during the trip we would still have come away impressed, but almost universally this was what we encountered.

The holidays already seem like ancient history and we’re back into the routine here.  When I next have an encounter where I am feeling rushed or irritable I will try to think of WSFTHWD (what Steve from the hotel would do).

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2020!

The author of this article is Rick Ropelewski, Wealth Manager at U.S. Wealth Management.